Do the Japanese kill and eat dolphins? Is this for real? Read on to find out!
Surprised to hear that the Japanese hunt dolphins? Wait till you hear more from us regarding the horrific incidents of dolphins being killed in Japan.
Prehistorically humans have been hunting animals for food because that was the only way of survival back then. As humans evolved we began practicing many humane ways to slaughter animals for food and we became ethical as to which animals must be consumed.
However, several cultures are accustomed to consuming exotic animals which some cultures deem inappropriate.
- Related: Why Japanese Eat Raw Fish
In addition, due to animal cruelty and extinction, certain animals are barred from consumption as well yet not everybody abides by the laws.
And today we’re here to know if the Japanese kill dolphins for food as well as to discuss the facts, misconceptions, rumors, and everything you need to know about this controversial topic. So hang on and read along!
Do The Japanese Kill And Eat Dolphins?
Are Dolphins Killed In Japan For Food?
As appalling as it sounds, the Japanese do kill dolphins for food and it’s not just a modern practice but whaling has been an ancient practice in Japan that could date back to the 12th century.
The killing of dolphins for consumption in Japan is a practice that’s widely followed in Taiji which is a town located in the Wakayama Prefecture.
The town of Taiji merely consists of a total population of almost 2000 people and hunting dolphins in this area has been an indigenous tradition. The season for hunting dolphins in the Taiji area usually lasts for up to six months or even more.
There are particular species of dolphins that the Japanese government has allowed the fishermen in Taiji to hunt such as Risso’s dolphins, striped dolphins, melon-headed dolphins, bottle-nosed dolphins, and five other dolphin species as well since they aren’t endangered like other dolphin species.
In fact, the Isana Fishermen’s Association in the town of Taiji has fixed a limited quota as to how many dolphins must be fished.
The quota for hunting dolphins in the coastal areas at Taiji has generally numbered between 1000 to 2000 dolphins and the quota can alter from season to season depending on government regulations. A proportion of the hunted dolphins are used for meat consumption.
How Do The Japanese Hunt The Dolphins?
The method used by the locals at Taiji to hunt dolphins can be and is regarded as cruel and inhumane. The world became aware of the hunting methods followed by the fishermen after the release of a documentary named “The Cove” which was released in 2009.
The Cove presents the horrific mass hunting of dolphins in Japan, the ruthless hunting tactics of the fishermen, and the risks related to consuming dolphin meat. What shocked several viewers was the mechanism that the Japanese fishermen have been following for decades to catch the dolphins.
The fishermen begin by traveling to the closest dolphin pod they can find in boats and park the boats against each other. They lower steel rods into the water and they beat it with hammers to create heavy sounds.
The noise disturbs the dolphin pod causing them to panic and they attempt to escape impending doom by swimming only for the fishermen to drive them close to the shore.
Then the hunters use sharp metal spears to kill the dolphins and they bleed to death which turns the water into dark red.
This traumatizes other dolphins as they seriously panic. However, this practice has altered, and currently, the fishermen let the dolphins eventually die while being trapped between the nets.
Why Are Dolphins Hunted In Japan?
Several sources claim that the Japanese hunt dolphins only for food but this is just a major misconception and rumor. While the Taiji fishermen are known to sell dolphin meat for consumption, most hunted dolphins aren’t used for consumption alone.
This is because dolphins are the predators of the food chain in the ocean and they can contain several toxins like mercury in their bodies as a result of consuming most marine life.
Hence, not everyone in Japan prefers consuming dolphin meat due to the health risks involved. There are a few other reasons why dolphins are hunted in Japan.
Several fishermen in Japan say that they simply kill dolphins to prevent them from eating all the fish. In other words, the fishermen just want to catch more fish but the dolphins are hindering this by eating most of the fish in the sea.
In addition, the hunted dolphins are also exported abroad for reasons unknown to the fishermen or the public.
Furthermore, dolphins are intelligent and cute animals that are loved by millions worldwide. Hence some dolphins are captured alive and sent to zoos and aquariums in Japan and other countries as well.
They’re then trained to perform activities that draw in countless spectators to the zoos and aquariums.
Therefore, not all the dolphins captured in Japan are used for consumption.
The Japanese Government’s Take On Killing Dolphins
It’s up to the government of a particular country to intervene when the people are committing unspeakable acts that cause damage to the environment, wildlife, and marine life. What does the government of Japan have to say regarding the hunting of dolphins for meat or other reasons?
We’d expect the Japanese government to condemn the horrendous hunting methods followed by the fishermen but unfortunately and more disappointingly that’s just not what happened.
The Japanese government didn’t ban the hunting of dolphins entirely but put out a limited quota of how many dolphins must be hunted during the 6 months hunting period. This reduced the number of dolphins being hunted and killed barbarically yet the hunt for dolphins continues.
In addition, it’s been a traditional practice by the people in Taiji to hunt dolphins for food for centuries and the Japanese government didn’t want to put a stop to this customary practice as the locals would be unhappy.
The town of Taiji consists of a mere population that mostly survives by fishing and hunting dolphins and since there’s a demand for dolphins either dead or alive, they make a living out of this profession even if most people deem it unethical.
Views Of The Animal Rights Activists on Hunting Dolphins in Japan
You don’t have to be a licensed animal rights activist to condemn any form of cruelty against an innocent animal but let’s see what the most recognized animal rights activist have to say about the traditional practices of hunting dolphins in Japan.
The animal rights campaign in Japan is not very established, however, there have been instances where vegans and animal rights activists in Japan took to the streets with placards showing their opposition to dolphin hunting.
This usually takes place during the dolphin hunting period and many movements and communities join hands together to protest against the barbaric dolphin hunts.
According to National Geographic, Ren Yabuki who’s an animal rights activist in Japan has teamed with Life Investigation Agency and Dolphin Project to record the dolphin hunting process at the Taiji cove.
Once filmed, the footage is then uploaded to social media networks to raise awareness. Ren Yabuki in his own words explains how horrifying the entire hunting process is.
Although several activists have raised their voices against dolphin hunting in Japan, nobody seemed to have seen any success in their movement. Despite local and international outcry, the dolphin hunt still holds out in Japan making every animal right activist yearn for a change.
What Can We Expect In The Future For Dolphins in Japan?
The tradition of hunting whales and dolphins in Japan has been going on for centuries now and there seems to be no end to it. However, on the bright side, there has been a downward trend in the number of dolphins that have been hunted in Japan.
While the government of Japan only allows a fixed quota of 1800 dolphins to be hunted per year, the number of dolphins the Taiji fishermen have hunted has reduced to below 1000 in recent times.
According to Statista, in 2020 the number of whales hunted in Japan amounted to 307 which decreased from 640 in 2018.
One major reason for the fall in the number of dolphins hunted in Japan is the awareness created by animal rights activists regarding the barbaric methods used to hunt dolphins.
In addition, the risks that are involved when consuming dolphin meat have made some Japanese people change their eating habits and completely omit dolphin meat from their diet.
Furthermore, hunting dolphins is not an unchallenging task because the fishermen need to be exceptionally professional and ready for the risks involved while hunting, and this could even mean death.
Due to such intricacies and a fall in demand for dolphin meat, we can positively and hopefully expect the long tradition of dolphin hunting in Japan to come to an end.
Do The Japanese Kill And Eat Dolphins: FAQs
Is killing dolphins legal in Japan?
Hunting dolphins or whaling has been a popular practice in Japan for centuries. The town of Taiji which is located in the Wakayama Prefecture is renowned for fishermen who drive dolphins into a bay to hunt them down or sell the captured dolphins to aquariums. The government of Japan imposes a strictly limited quota annually that states the number of dolphins to be hunted.
Why are dolphins slaughtered in Japan?
Dolphins are hunted in Japan in the town of Taiji as it’s a traditional practice to consume dolphin meat in the area. However, dolphins aren’t solely hunted for meat in Japan and there are several reasons behind the hunt. The fishermen hunt dolphins to drive them away from killing all the fish. In addition, the captured dolphins are also sold to aquariums and zoos or exported to other countries.
Do Japanese people eat dolphin meat?
Consuming dolphin meat has been a renowned practice in Japan for centuries and it’s predominantly practiced in Taiji which is a town in the Wakayama Prefecture. Around 1000 dolphins are hunted by fishermen annually in the coastal bay of Taiji, while some of them are slaughtered for meat, the rest are exported or sold to aquariums.
Did Japan stop killing dolphins?
The practice of hunting dolphins in Japan has persisted for centuries now and it takes place annually during the month of September and can last up to 6 months. The Japanese government has set a quota of nearly 1000 dolphins to be hunted per year. However, the number of dolphins has reduced to less than 500 in 2020 and the amount is expected to reduce eventually.